“Mitt Romney may lead in delegates and Rick Santorum might have momentum, but neither of the two leading Republican presidential candidates is having an easy time exciting even his own voters, the” AP writes.
PAUL: Jackie Kucinich on Paul’s campaign: “Rep. Ron Paul's presidential campaign strategy of targeting caucus states appears to have fallen flat — he is still without a win — and with only one caucus state remaining, it might appear time for him to withdraw.”
More: “But that is not how the Paul campaign rolls. Instead, the campaign is trying to pick up stray delegates in states that have already held caucuses… Although Paul failed to win caucuses in states including Colorado, Iowa, Washington and Alaska, the process of awarding delegates in those states is not yet complete, leaving the door open for the Paul campaign… The Paul campaign is targeting the local meetings held in counties around the county that are part of the process of choosing national convention delegates, hoping to assure selection of Paul allies.”
ROMNEY: Romney won all 20 of Puerto Rico’s delegates at stake Sunday night (with 83% reporting, he was up 83%-8% over Santorum). And now, 20 percent of Mitt Romney’s delegate lead has come from territories. He has cleaned up in the territories, getting a net 52 delegates out of Guam (9-0), the Northern Mariana Islands (9-0), the U.S. Virgin Islands (7-2), American Samoa (9-0), and Puerto Rico (20-0). In the NBC News count, Romney has a 259-delegate lead, 443-184 over Santorum.
As Reuters wrote Friday: “In a carefully planned ‘island strategy,’ Romney has blunted the effect of a surge by main rival Rick Santorum and stayed way ahead in the months-long, state-by-state fight to win the 1,144 delegates that will seal the Republican nomination.”
“Mitt Romney's increasingly confident campaign is intensifying calls -- publicly and privately -- for his Republican opponents to concede defeat in the presidential nomination battle, even before Illinois voters have their say Tuesday in the campaign's next big contest,” the AP writes.
Ann Romney took up that call last night in Illinois after her husband was declared the winner in Puerto Rico: "We need to send a message that it's time to coalesce,” she said, standing next to her husband. “It's time to get behind one candidate and get the job done so we can move on to the next challenge, bringing us one step closer to defeating Barack Obama."
Romney has lots of advantages in Illinois, but, the Boston Globe writes, “with increasing worry that Rick Santorum could score another upset, the former Massachusetts governor has rejiggered his schedule to spend much of the next four days campaigning in Illinois.”
“It is one of Mitt Romney’s most striking anecdotes. The US Navy, he says, has fewer ships today than in 1917, and the US Air Force is smaller than it was in 1947. Notwithstanding that today’s fleets are far beyond the capability of those from yesteryear, Romney says it is evidence that America’s military dominance is at risk,” the Boston Globe writes. “Romney’s solution is one of the most far-ranging, expensive, and perhaps least understood of his campaign. He has vowed to commit at least 4 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product - $4 out of every $100 in the nation’s economy - to ‘core’ defense spending, not including many war expenses.”
And: “Put another way, that means Romney proposes spending 61 percent more than Obama at the end of a decade-long cycle, according to the libertarian Cato Institute. Enacting such an increase at the same time that Romney wants to slash taxes and balance the budget could cost trillions of dollars and require huge cuts in domestic programs. As Romney’s website puts it matter-of-factly, ‘This will not be a cost-free process.’”
(Here’s a great graphic illustrating the huge increase in spending in a Romney budget.)
The AP’s Hunt looks at Santorum court evangelicals: “Nearly a hundred pastors from all over Louisiana and from as far away as Texas and Colorado accepted Family Research Council President Tony Perkins’ invitation to hear a personal pitch Sunday from the former Pennsylvania senator, who met with them in a private briefing before he addressed the more than 1,400 faithful who crowded into the sanctuary at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church.”
SANTORUM: Santorum saying that Puerto Rico had to speak English as its primary language hurt him. In a defensive press release following the results, Santorum spokesman Hogan Gidley said, "Mitt Romney says he supports English as the official language of America while on the mainland, but then says Puerto Ricans don't have to learn English while he's on Puerto Rico.”
He also said this: “Santorum, Romney's closest challenger, had an unfortunate slip of the lip when he called Puerto Rico a ‘Spanish-speaking country’ just as voters in the U.S. territory were going to the polls in the GOP primary,” the New York Daily News writes.
After defending his decision to back Sen. Arlen Specter across the country in a multitude of states, Santorum Sunday called his support for him a “mistake” on ABC’s This Week.
“Rick Santorum is declaring a war… on porn,” the New York Daily News writes. “The Republican presidential candidate and staunch social conservative wants to ban hard-core pornography. He calls it ‘toxic to marriages and relationships’ in a new statement posted on his official website. ‘America is suffering a pandemic of harm from pornography,’ the former Pennsylvania senator writes. ‘It contributes to misogyny and violence against women. It is a contributing factor to prostitution and sex trafficking.’ He demands a crackdown on the distribution of hardcore pornography on the Internet, in addition to material on cable/satellite TV, hotel/motel TV, retail shops and through the mail.”
Santorum did appear to win in Missouri (again).